On Your Own

Helping a Loved One with Alzheimer's Disease Live Safely at Home

Guest Post by Carla Lopez

Pexels-matthias-zomer-339620If your loved one has Alzheimer’s Disease, you know that significant changes tend to come as the disease progresses. Not only can this make it difficult to get into a normal life routine, but it can also pose problems with home safety.

However, if you take certain measures and make the necessary home adaptations, you can keep up with the changes and ensure your loved one is able to live safely and comfortably in their own home. Check out this practical guide.

Understanding the Challenges     

Before you make any plans or modifications, it’s important to understand how your loved one’s disease impacts their safety. For example, Alzheimer’s can affect their judgment, which is why it is common for people with the disease to forget how to use certain appliances and devices.

Those with Alzheimer’s are also prone to wander and get lost around their home because their sense of time and place is not what it once was. Maintaining balance and problems with hearing, vision, and depth perception are common as well.

Assessing the Situation      

Evaluate your loved one’s home to get a plan together for the modifications you should arrange to accommodate their needs. First, discern whether their current home can be modified. Is the home adaptable, or will it cost too much time and money to make the necessary changes?

If you and your loved one decide that it isn’t practical for them to remain in their home, one option is to move them into yours, especially if you both want to put off a move to memory care just yet. Ask yourself a few questions first, however, so you know this is the right setup for you. How does this situation make you feel? Do you have time to take on a caregiving role? How will this affect your family? Will it affect me financially? If you decide that it’s the right move, you will want to put the pieces in place for a smooth transition with minimal stress.

If you decide to have your loved one move in with you, you’ll already be facing quite a bit of change, so one way to simplify the process and cut down on stress is by enlisting the help of professional movers. Luckily, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Simply search online for “moving companies near me” and browse ratings and reviews, then request a quote in advance. This will also free up your attention so that you can focus entirely on your loved one’s well-being, rather than fretting about and struggling with each box and piece of furniture.

While hiring professional movers is a justifiable and worthwhile expense, remember that with another person living in your home and another mouth to feed, you will likely have to find creative ways to cut down on monthly expenses. That could mean canceling subscriptions you never use, dining out less or tackling a bigger payment such as refinancing your mortgage. For example, by taking advantage of lower interest rates right now, you can quickly refinance your home and see a lower mortgage payment to help free up cash that you can put toward updates.

Precautions in the Kitchen

Perhaps the most useful step you can take to maintain a safe kitchen for your loved one with Alzheimer’s is to invest in appliances that come with an automatic shut-off feature. Adding stove knob covers or removing the knobs from the stove can also prevent your loved one from harm, as can securing any prescription drugs and sharp objects.

Precautions in the Bathroom

The bathroom is a common place for accidents for people experiencing cognitive decline and impaired balance. Consider installing grab bars, a walk-in tub, and/or a shower chair so that your loved one can maintain their personal hygiene and remain out of harm’s way.

Adding Extra Lighting   

Because people with Alzheimer’s often deal with vision problems, they can become disoriented when the levels of light in a home change. You can help your loved one stay safe and comfortable in their home by installing additional lighting in hallways, stairways, entries, and other areas where the lighting fluctuates. Also, consider putting in nightlights in the bathrooms, bedrooms, and hallways.

Upkeep in the Home

Finally, try to keep your loved one’s home clean and decluttered. And regularly check the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and other safety devices to ensure that they are in proper working order. It’s best practice to replace the batteries at least twice a year. Furthermore, make sure you have access to fire extinguishers, and consider installing sprinklers to add an extra layer of protection.

As your loved one’s Alzheimer’s progresses, it’s essential that you make the changes necessary to their living environment. Learn about the challenges they are facing, and determine whether the best path forward is to modify their current home or move them into yours. Follow the tips above for creating a safe and comfortable home for your loved one, and keep researching other modifications and precautions that can make life easier and safer.

Carla Lopez retired a couple of years ago, but she didn’t lose her entrepreneurial spirit. She created Boomer Biz for retirees like herself who still have a desire to work and achieve. The site is a resource for people in their golden years who want to start their own business or go back to work doing what they love.

Photo by Matthias Zomer on pixels.com

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Senior Home Safety 101

Guest Post by David Clark

Pexels-mart-production-7328474As we age, certain things need to be considered to ensure our safety. One of those things is our home. A trip down the stairs can be dangerous, and so can a slippery floor in the bathroom. Hence, the need to prep your home to increase senior home safety.

Following are three dangers seniors can face in their homes and three senior home safety upgrades that are worth investing in.

Top Three Causes of Injuries in the Home

Falls

According to the National Safety Council, “Every year, one out of every three adults age 65 and older will experience a fall.” Falls can happen anywhere in the house, but they are most common in areas where there is a lot of foot traffic, such as the kitchen and bathroom.

There are a number of reasons why seniors are more susceptible to falls. As we age, our bones become more brittle and our muscles weaken. This makes it easy to lose your balance and take a tumble.

Vision Problems

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than half of Americans age 65 and older have some type of vision problem. Common vision problems that can lead to falls include cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.

These conditions make it difficult to see obstacles in your path, which can increase your risk of falling.

Unattended Cooking

Cooking is one of the most common causes of house fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, “Cooking equipment is involved in almost half of all home structure fires and one-quarter of home fire deaths.” 

Seniors could potentially start cooking fires because they are more likely to use outdated appliances or forget to turn off the stove. They also sometimes live alone, which means they may not have someone to help them if a fire does start.

Upgrades to Invest In

Now that you have a rough idea of what makes a home dangerous for senior living, the next step would be to make senior home safety upgrades to provide peace of mind for both you and your loved ones.

Bathroom Upgrades 

An essential senior home safety upgrade to consider is upgrading your bathroom. This can include adding grab bars, non-slip flooring, and a raised toilet seat. These upgrades can help prevent falls and make it easier for you to use the bathroom with independence.

Another thing you can do is add a walk-in tub or shower. These can be expensive, but they are worth the investment if you want to age in place safely. Walk-in tubs also have various benefits, such as providing a relaxing environment, helping with pain relief, and improving circulation.

Motion Sensor Lights

Stumbling across a room in the dark can be dangerous, especially if you have mobility issues and vision problems. To help prevent falls, it's a good idea to install motion sensor lights in your home. These lights will turn on automatically when you enter a room, providing you with the light you need to move around safely.

Motion sensor lights are also a great security measure, deterring burglars and giving you peace of mind. Not to mention, they also help you save on your energy bill!

Alarm Systems

Alarm systems can be costly, but they are a necessary senior home safety upgrade. For example, smoke and fire alarms are crucial because during a fire, every second counts. Smoke can travel faster than you can, so having an alarm system in place can help give you and your loved ones the time you need to evacuate safely. These alarms come in handy if you want to prevent fires in the kitchen.

A home security system can also give you peace of mind, knowing that your home is being monitored even when you're not there.

A Final Word

Knowing the basic dangers in a home and being informed of how to avoid them and prevent injury are crucial steps in keeping you and your loved ones safe. These are just a few senior home safety upgrades worth investing in. You can help prevent falls and live a safer, more independent life by making these upgrades. The key to increasing home safety for seniors is to understand the risks and mitigate them with the right precautions and tools.

David Clark is the CEO of Basement Guides with several years of experience in basement-related problems and home safety. He has written and published many resources and guides related to senior home safety, grants, and home modifications. David is currently working to spread the word about senior home safety and health through resourceful guides and articles.

Photo by MART PRODUCTION on Pexels.com 

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3 Tips for Marketing Your Own Business

Guest Post by Carla Lopez

Pexels-karolina-grabowska-4491492As more Boomers start their own businesses, they need ways to boost sales through successful marketing. You have to use the right approach if you want to achieve your goals. If you aren’t sure how to begin, here are three key tips.

1. Don't Overlook Skill-Building

Many entrepreneurs assume that marketing isn’t overly challenging. However, if you don’t have the right marketing skills, it’s far harder to do well than you’d expect.

That’s why seizing skill-building opportunities is essential. Ideally, you want to begin by getting an online business degree and choosing a business management, leadership, or marketing program. That way, you’ll get a solid understanding of how to approach your company, including marketing it effectively.

Pursuing an online MBA is another excellent choice. You’ll learn about marketing, corporate finance, statistics, and economics, all while having enough flexibility to balance family, work, and school.

2. Partner with Another Business for a Cross-Promotion

Cross-promotions can be an excellent option for expanding your reach and tapping into a new customer base. Plus, it’s an affordable option to explore, potentially costing little more than your time and energy.

When you explore businesses to partner with, avoid direct competitors. Instead, find businesses with customer bases that align with your target market but don’t sell the exact same product or service. For example, if you sell high-end accessories, you don’t want to choose a jeweler if you also sell jewelry as there’s too much cross-over. However, you could partner with a clothing boutique or higher-end shoe store, as you may attract similar customers but don’t directly compete.

After that, you’ll need to find a mutually agreeable approach. One simple way is to showcase each other’s businesses on social media, allowing you to introduce each company to the other’s followers. You can use a similar approach in email newsletters, as well as on your websites.

Offering discounts to shoppers who come from one business and then buy at the other can work. Coming together to sponsor a contest or giveaway is another stellar option, as well as joint-hosting an event, like a fair, concert, or similar community activity.

3. Offer a Free Class that Relates to Your Product or Service

Free classes that relate to your product or service can be great marketing options, especially if your offerings come with a bit of a learning curve. You can show current and prospective customers how to make the most of their purchase, ensuring they see the value in what you sell.

If you’re looking for an easy to deploy, passive option, consider designing an online course that’s available on-demand. Usually, this involves creating a video that you can host on your website or post on a popular platform, like YouTube. That way, you can publish the content once and continuously share information that customers may find beneficial with ease.

In some cases, a live in-person or online workshop could be a better choice. You can engage with customers directly and create a highly authentic experience, both of which may work in your favor. Usually, some simple calendaring and video conferencing software is enough to make this happen

If a full-blown class isn’t ideal for your product or service, you could use a slightly different approach. For example, you can create a post-sale drip campaign to share tips, tricks, and insights over several days or weeks. Along the way, you could even present upselling or companion products and services, potentially snagging a few more sales. Just make sure that the advice always takes center stage, increasing the odds of engaging customers.

These are just three marketing tips to help you find success as a Boomer entrepreneur.

Carla Lopez retired a couple of years ago, but she didn’t lose her entrepreneurial spirit. She created Boomer Biz for retirees like herself who still have a desire to work and achieve. The site is a resource for people in their golden years who want to start their own business or go back to work doing what they love.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

HappilyRewired.com is a Wearever Top 20 Senior Blog and a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog

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Should You or Shouldn't You?

Pexels-andrea-piacquadio-3783348In February, I wrote a post that cited statistics regarding the high percentage of small business owners who are Boomers. "Small business" is a deceiving term because its definition varies by industry sector. In professional services, for example, "small" could be a business with just a handful of employees, while in manufacturing, "small" may be a business that has several hundred employees. The United States Census Bureau reports a statistic that may shock you: The majority of U.S. businesses have fewer than five employees.

From an entrepreneurial Boomer's perspective, "small" could mean a one-person business. At that size, such a business is likely to be in the professional services sector -- accounting, business consulting, law, marketing and so on. There are many obvious advantages to a one-person business, not the least of which is low overhead. In fact, in today's networking economy, a one-person professional services business can offer even more services to clients simply by sub-contracting other professionals. One person could also operate as an independent contractor, taking on project assignments or filling in as a contracted worker when an employer has a specialized or short-term need. This particular aspect of business is what the "gig economy" is all about.

For older Boomers who draw monthly Social Security benefits and must take Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from their retirement accounts, a one-person business can be an attractive way to leverage work experience and generate modest additional income. For the most part, the primary goal of these Boomers is probably personal satisfaction rather than income generation. On the other hand, there are sure to be a substantial number of older Boomers who have no intention of "retiring" and continue to work in their own businesses, either part-time or full-time, with the goal of making some serious money. Younger Boomers not yet ready to draw retirement benefits may be even more motivated to use self-employment for financial gain.

The "X" factor, in my opinion, is how much drive you have to be your own boss. I'll use myself as an example. I owned and operated a direct marketing agency for two decades, starting out as a one-person business and growing it to more than fifty employees. After leaving that agency, I went to another advertising firm for a few years. Honestly, working for someone else was not something I enjoyed, so my next move was to operate a small business with my spouse for seven years. Then I transitioned to a part-time writing business.

Even though the size of each of my own businesses was dramatically different, I have basically been a small business owner all along. That has helped me understand what it means to be self-employed.

Should you or shouldn't you consider working independently? Obviously this is a very personal decision that involves an assessment of your own experience/capabilities as well as your income goals. But if the drive to be on your own isn't a fire in your gut and you still want to work, you might be better off pursuing a part-time or full-time position with another employer rather than working for yourself.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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When Your Aging Parents Need Different Accommodations

Guest Post by Millie Jones

Older-couple-g4689f619f_1920As the years go on, you might realize that one of your parents has vastly different care needs than the other. For adult children of aging parents, this might mean stepping in to help your parent move into a nursing home while your other parent downsizes. The following tips demonstrate how to balance your parents’ needs as you sort out their living situations.

  1. Consider Selling the Family Home

 If one of your parents needs nursing home care, and the other is open to moving somewhere new in order to downsize, it’s probably the right time to sell the family home. Your parents may be able to use the money from this sale to cover the costs of a nursing home. To navigate this process, you’ll need to start by accurately calculating your parents’ assets. By subtracting the amount currently owed on their mortgage from the market value of their home, you’ll be able to determine their home equity.

  1. Other Payment Methods

What if the profits from your parents’ home sale won’t fully account for the costs of a nursing home? You and your parents will need to consider other options. According to Paying for Senior Care, if paying out of pocket isn’t an option, some seniors use Medicaid, veteran’s benefits, or long-term care insurance instead. Your parents might need guidance when it comes to funding nursing home expenses. You may want to gift them a session or two with a financial advisor who can review their portfolio and help them make the right decision.

  1. Choose the Right Nursing Home

 Take your time while reviewing different nursing homes in your area. After all, you need to make sure that your parent will be getting the best care possible. Ideally, you’ll want to choose somewhere local so that their spouse can visit regularly. You will have to tour any potential nursing homes in person, ask for their certifying agency reports, and talk to their staff about how they develop care plans. Also review objective state ratings if available.

  1. Downsizing Options

You’ve helped one of your parents find a comfortable nursing home where they can get the care they need - but where should your other parent live? It’s a good idea to explore their downsizing options early on so that they have plenty of time to weigh their potential choices. Check out the Senior Homes “downsizing guide” to learn more about things to consider as your parent moves into a smaller home or a retirement community. If you have a good relationship, perhaps welcoming your parent to live with you is another possibility.

  1. Be Patient

If you’re supporting your parents throughout this process, you might feel overwhelmed and exhausted at times. This is especially true if you’re stepping into a part-time caregiver role until you find the right nursing home for your parent. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from other family members. And remember, it’s okay to feel frustrated occasionally, especially if you’re worried about your parents’ health. Make some time for yourself when possible; simply taking a half-hour to read or do gentle yoga when you’re stressed can help you release these emotions.

When one parent needs to move into a nursing home while the other is healthy enough to live independently, it can put a strain on your family. By carefully going over all of your parents’ options for accommodations, you can ensure they will both be comfortable. With the suggestions provided, you can help your parents make the right choices for their safety and wellbeing.

Millie Jones is excited to share SeniorWellness with other older adults to help them embrace wellness and live life to the fullest. Ms. Jones enjoys doting on her grandchildren, writing and photography.

Image: Pixabay.com

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"Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off to Work We Go" -- or Is It?

The_Seven_Dwarfs_DisneyAs of the third quarter of 2021, 50.3% of U.S. adults 55 and older said they were out of the labor force due to retirement, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the most recent official labor force data. In the third quarter of 2019, before the onset of the pandemic, 48.1% of those adults were retired. In regard to specific age groups, in the third quarter of 2021 66.9% of 65- to 74-year-olds were retired, compared with 64.0% in the same quarter of 2019.

The data regarding entrepreneurs tell a different story, however. According to the Kauffman Foundation, the trend in the age of entrepreneurs over the past twenty-five years represents a substantial shift towards more participation of older entrepreneurs: In 1996, 14.8% of entrepreneurs were 55-64 years old and by 2020, 24.5% were 55-64 years old. An article in NextAvenue indicates that Guidant Financial and the Small Business Trends Alliance, in its 2021 Small Business Trends (a survey of over 2,400 current and aspiring small business owners nationwide), report that Boomers account for 41% of small business owners (currently between ages 57 and 75) and Generation X for 46% (41 to 56 years old).

Looking at these data together, one might conclude that a significant portion of the Boomer generation is leaving the traditional workforce -- that is, working for someone else -- and possibly entering the self-employed workplace. Today, self-employment could be defined in a number of different ways. It could be starting a full-time business or a part-time business. It could also be setting up a freelance business in which an individual works on a project or hourly basis. So many of these "gig" businesses fly under the statistical radar that it might be difficult to even know how many older adults are involved in such enterprises.

It may look like the majority of Boomers are retiring, but how many of them are instead just changing the way they look at work? Perhaps a number of them are now viewing work as optional rather than mandatory. Those Boomers who retire from the traditional workforce may be figuring out how to combine part-time work with volunteering and leisure time. They could be drawing Social Security and taking Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from retirement funds to live on and working part-time more for satisfaction than for income. If this is the case, as I suspect it is, then many Boomers have indeed fundamentally changed the very nature of retirement. They're going off to work... but in a whole new way.

Image from 1958 trailer for Walt Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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"Rewiring" with Purpose

Austin-chan-ukzHlkoz1IE-unsplashSince I began writing this blog almost seven years ago, I've promoted the idea of rewiring instead of retiring. To me, "rewiring" means approaching our second act in life as an opportunity to refresh our perspective. It means recognizing how to pursue another path while leveraging the talents we have and the experience we've gained in our first act.

The typical Boomer has spent his or her adult life working. The most fortunate of us found jobs which turned into careers or professions. Perhaps we have been rewarded financially. Hopefully, we've gained satisfaction for a job well done. Even better, we've achieved a sense of purpose.

So how do we meet the fundamental challenge of rewiring with purpose? I'm certainly not the first to address this question.

Books have been written on this very subject, such as Who Do You Want to Be When You Grow Old?: The Path of Purposeful Aging by Richard J. Leider and David A. Shapiro, published last year. In an interview with Nancy Collamer for NextAvenue, Leider said purpose "is the answer to the question, 'Why do you get up in the morning?' ... Everyone has a purpose, but it rarely just reveals itself. You have to make a choice to discover your purpose, be curious and make connections with others. It's an iterative process that unfolds over time and changes with age, so it's important to reassess your purpose on a regular basis."

Leider adds, "If you are going to continue to grow as you age, you need to reexamine your gifts. Ask yourself: What do I really love to do? What do I want my legacy to be? Then, think about how you can best use those gifts to solve a pressing problem, help someone out or make a contribution to others. When you do that, you'll place yourself along the path to purposeful aging."

Investment adviser Brian Skrobonja, writing for Kiplinger, shares similar advice about purpose in the form of three specific action steps:

Action #1: Reinvent Yourself
"The transition of retirement is not the destination; it is the transition to what is next.  It is your opportunity to reinvent yourself and live out the second half of your life with purpose."

Action #2: Reframe Your Mindset About Money
"The measurement for your success should be on how much income you can generate from your assets that is consistent and predictable. It’s income from your assets that grants you freedom of money and time so you can dedicate your talents to pursue your purpose."

Action #3: Reframe Your Mindset of Time
"You have a choice: You can live as if you have been set out to pasture to retire or you can live as if you are just entering your second half of your life. Your future reality is created in your mind, and whatever you focus on expands."

Of course, there is no magic formula for discovering your post-career purpose. It is highly personal and individualized. For some, it could be new found activism inspired by past activism; this is what Third Act founder Bill McKibben exhorts us to do.

Discovering your purpose may take some time -- and it is likely to be an ongoing process. That isn't a bad thing: It's just the nature of rewiring, instead of retiring.

Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

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Looking Ahead with "The New Map of Life"

Screen Shot 2021-12-10 at 4.54.13 PMThe Stanford Center on Longevity is doing some excellent work around aging. A major initiative of the Center is "The New Map of Life." According to the Center, in this initiative "researchers define new models for education and lifelong learning, redesign how we work, advise new policies for health care, housing, the environment and financial security, and promote more intergenerational partnerships. It will also advance a new narrative, which redefines what it means to be 'old' and values people at different stages of life."

I wrote about this map before, but just recently, the Center issued a report about The New Map of Life that is well worth reading. (See the link below to get a free copy.) The report details eight guiding principles as follows. I've included a few excerpts for each:

  1. Age Diversity is a Net Positive
    We are in an era of "unprecedented age diversity. ...The speed, strength, and zest for discovery common in younger people, combined with the emotional intelligence and experience prevalent among older people, create possibilities for families, communities, and workplaces that haven't existed before."
  2. Invest in Future Centenarians to Deliver Big Returns
    "As people live longer and the roles and social norms associated with age become more fluid and self-defined, less uniform and regimented, qualities such as resilience, self-efficacy (a belief in one's own abilities to shape outcomes), and curiosity (rather than dread) when confronted with change will become the emotional toolkit for longevity."
  3. Align Health Spans to Life Spans
    "Health span should be the metric for determining how, when, and where longevity efforts are most effective."
  4. Prepare to be Amazed by the Future of Aging
    "Today's 5-year-olds will benefit from an astonishing array of medical advances and emerging technologies that will make their experience of aging far different from that of today's older adults."
  5. Work More Years with More Flexibility
    "Rather than plunging over a retirement 'cliff' at a time predetermined by age, workers can choose a 'glide path' to retirement over the course of several years, allowing them to gradually reduce working hours while remaining in the workforce."
  6. Learn Throughout Life
    "We envision new options for learning outside the confines of formal education, with people of all ages able to acquire the knowledge they need at each stage of their lives, and to access it in ways that fit their needs, interests, abilities, schedules, and budgets."
  7. Build Longevity-Ready Communities
    "Safe and flexible housing for an age-diverse population is one area of unmet need -- and tremendous opportunity. ... While zoning and planning decisions are up to local governments, state and federal policies can incentivize the development of climate-resistant, livable, walkable communities that promote the well-being and safety of people of all ages."
  8. Life Transitions are a Feature, Not a Bug
    The New Map of Life encourages a "whole-of-life approach" that is about "optimizing each stage of life, so that benefits can compound for decades, while at the same time allowing for more time to recover from setbacks."

While some of this may sound like pie in the sky, The New Map of Life is supported by extensive research and analysis. This initiative is an exciting visionary perspective that could be a blueprint for the quality of life as future generations age. It also has more immediate implications for the way society treats aging Boomers and the manner in which we live out our older years.

Download the free report below (PDF).

Download NewMapofLifeReport

Graphic: Stanford Center on Longevity

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Trend Awareness for Boomers

Direction-1033278_1920Boomers contemplating retirement (or some version of it) need to be aware of various trends that might shape their decisions about working, finances, health and even where they live. Catherine Siskos, editor of Kiplinger's Retirement Report, discusses five key trends in a special section inserted into THE WEEK (Sept. 10 - 17, 2021). These trends are part of an article that addresses how this decade is unfolding and includes some forward-looking financial investment possibilities. This special section is well worth reading.

Here are the five trends affecting retirement that Siskos discusses in some detail:

  1. "Flexible work, at a price." The reality is that older workers may be willing to trade a higher salary for flexible work hours. Working part-time or on a contract basis could be a desirable if less lucrative alternative to permanent, full-time employment.
  2. "Shrinking benefits." Social Security benefits risk being reduced in the future because of a current projection that the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted in 2034. The age for claiming full retirement benefits continues to go up, with those born 1960 or later affected the most. In addition, claiming Social Security benefits too early results in a permanent cut to your monthly benefit payment.
  3. "Semi-privatized Medicare." Siskos writes that Medicare "could run short of money as early as 2026." Congress is struggling to come up with a solution.
  4. "A tech revolution in care." Advances such as smart home technology, remote monitoring, and assists to health care by Artificial Intelligence could help reduce health care costs and increase the efficiency of health care providers and caregivers.
  5. "Climate disruption." Retirees who are thinking about where to live in their older years need to carefully consider the impact of climate change. For example, the popularity of the South and West as retirement destinations needs to be balanced against the effects of global warming.

It is somewhat disconcerting to realize that we have little direct control over these trends, except perhaps for the first one. However, wise Boomers can assess their own situations and determine how best to deal with each trend. For example:

  • With the aid of your financial adviser, you can come up with a plan that reduces expenses and increases income to potentially offset the impact of a cut in Social Security. This might include some combination of part-time work, budget tightening, reviewing your investment strategy and planning to draw down your IRA/retirement savings at the appropriate time.
  • With the likelihood that health care costs could play a significant role in your budget, you may need to consider supplemental insurance to Medicare and/or long-term care insurance. You might also consider looking into the cost of assisted living or continuing care retirement communities to determine if they are feasible future options.
  • When it comes to "climate disruption," it would be smart to realistically evaluate where you live now and where you may want to live in the future. While climate is just one factor in remaining in your current home or relocating, it is increasingly important.

Now is the time for Boomers to take the necessary steps to protect their retirement/"rewirement" years.

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Home Sweet Home?

Cristian-newman-CeZypKDceQc-unsplashConsider this scenario: An elderly widow, now approaching 98 years of age, lives alone in a one-bedroom apartment. Despite being hard of hearing, suffering from an increasing loss of short-term memory and depending on supplemental oxygen, she is otherwise in remarkably good health. Fiercely independent, she insists on continuing to live by herself. She can still handle the basic tasks of daily living. Her daughter, who lives nearby, visits regularly to walk her dog, buy groceries, provide socialization and more. Only recently has the widow accepted weekly visits from a home health aide. She is adamant about living independently and resists the notion of entering an assisted living facility.

This type of situation is real. It is playing out all across the nation when older people choose to "age in place." As I wrote in a previous post, according to The Center for Aging in Place, "Aging in Place is a national movement to enable people to stay in their own homes as they grow older by making available the social support, health care, and home maintenance services they require to live happy, productive lives in the community."

In theory, aging in place is a noble concept. In practice, maybe it isn't so great. In the scenario above, the independence the elderly woman perceives she has is simulated. She is housebound, feeble (she has already fallen twice) and largely dependent on her daughter or a caregiver. It is just a matter of time before she will need daily care in her home if she remains there. Entering an assisted living facility may appear to be a more suitable alternative, but such facilities have their shortcomings, which might include high cost and low quality of care.

Many in the Boomer generation seem to embrace the idea of aging in place, but we have to distinguish desire from practicality.  “The vast majority of people want to stay in their homes as they age, and most homes in this country aren’t designed to allow that to happen,” Dr. Rodney Harrell, AARP's VP for Family, Home and Community, tells The New York Times. The Times reports that "AARP recently introduced HomeFit, a free augmented reality app on iOS that can scan a room and suggest improvements to help turn a house into a 'lifelong home,' free from safety and mobility risks. It is an extension of the organization’s extensive HomeFit Guide, which is available online."

Apps and guides are all well and good, but they may obscure the real question: How wise it for an elderly person to age in place? Safety appears to be a key concern: According to The Times, "The website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that for adults 65 years and older, $50 billion is spent annually on medical costs related to nonfatal fall injuries and $754 million is spent related to fatal falls."

The patchwork solutions we currently have in our society for aging in place are less than adequate. If we Boomers choose to age in place, we will likely need to make some significant changes to be able to remain in our "Home Sweet Home."

Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

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